LIVE REVIEW: No Age @ Oxford Art Factory, Sydney

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No Age

No Age, Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Arse, Basic Human
Oxford Art Factory
February 14th, 2019

Almost ten years to the day that No Age last played Sydney, at the 2009 Laneway Festival, the Los Angeles duo return on the back of their critically acclaimed album of last year, Snares Like A Haircut. 

A fine four-band lineup had been put together for the evening and all four local acts impressed. Basic Human kicked things off with their primitive punk rock, built on a relentless rhythm section and topped off with the endlessly pacing singer’s half-sung, mostly shouted vocals. They were catchy and a good balance of noise, attitude and humour, with each song introduced as “This is a love song”, given it was Valentine’s Day.

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ARSE

Arse have to be one of the best named bands to come out of Sydney in a long while and you kind of expected great things from them before they’d even played a note. Collared shirts, tight trousers, swagger and volume. The trio started with a gloriously mangled take on Advance Australia Fair before unleashing distorted bass, guitar sounds pulled from a metal album and minimal post-hardcore drumming. It was like Cosmic Psychos cutting all kinds of Jesus Lizard angles with the noise punk dial on 11. They topped it off with a Revolting Cocks’ish lurch and stagger through John Paul Young’s Love Is In The Air.

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Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys

Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys played a Surry Hills gig with No Age back on that 2009 tour and here they were again, essentially still doing the same thing but seeming much more comfortable in their musical skin as a band. The songs rolled and tumbled with less consternation and more flow. Plenty of tracks from their 2017 album Rot were played including the super catchy pop song Plastic Tears, Away and Expanded Horizons and on stage and with volume it showed how well they’ve shaped their Replacements meets melodic garage punk sound over two albums.

No Age still do what they’ve always done, from those early days at The Smell in LA to their latest album, they’ve always found inventive ways to dig noise and melody from the single construct of drums, a guitar and a couple of mics. They still seem a relaxed pair, chatting with the audience, exchanging jokes about old songs being new, unravelling the mystery of Vegemite and talking up the observed ease of living as a vegan in Sydney. 

Their dynamic is basic but with the subtle interplay of Randy Randall’s guitar effects, Dean Spunt’s punk breakbeats and other avant garde interjections like the experimental ambient typewriter chatter of Snares Like A Haircut, their songs rarely end up regressing into same-sameness. One quickly forgets they’re a two-piece when the full throttle wall of Dinosaur Jr sound bursts forth. It’s a clever blend of energy and inventiveness, equally directed at the mind and the feet of the audience and Randall seemed equally lost in a sea of hair and leg kicks as he wrestled all kinds of sounds from his guitar. When they dialled back the frenzy on the song Send Me they sounded like a lost Flying Nun band – beautifully wasted, wistful and melancholic.

Spunt and Randall left us with perhaps their finest song, Teen Creeps, with its Sonic Youth chug and shoegaze wash of guitar, a cathartic way to send the audience back out into the night, fully vibed on No Age’s dissonant sonic hypnosis.

Chris Familton

LIVE REVIEW: R.I.P Society 5th Birthday @ Sydney Opera House (24/05/14)

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The Dead C

Vivid Live deserves a pat on the back for inviting Nic Warnock’s R.I.P Society label to celebrate their 5th birthday with a stylistically varied lineup of a dozen acts that have been released on the label or share its open-minded and independent approach to music.

Things started off skronky and dissonant with Ghastly Spats before frontman Lincoln Brown ditched his guitar, picked up a new band (Housewives) and straightened the music into gonzo punk territory. With the audience attention switching across the room to another of the three stages they found Rat Columns playing their debut show and they were a real highlight. Tight, melodic, urgent and melancholic guitar pop that perfectly balanced mood, sonics and songwriting. As quickly as structured pop/rock songs appeared they were dissected and interestingly mutated by the jazz and dub inflected Cured Pink. Warnock’s own band Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, who surprised and impressed many with their debut album, played a great set that retained the record’s suburban ennui in a low key and jovial manner.

Hobartian duo The Native Cats probably won the most new fans. Utilising bass, vocals and programming they mixed electronica and post punk, like Shellac cosying up to New Order, to great effect. There were two other electronic acts on the bill, the textural experimentation of Half High and the hypnotic dance music of Holy Balm who created the most celebratory vibe of the night. Rounding out the party were three quite different bands – Woollen Kits and their emotive jangle pop, the seminal feedtime who delivered the heaviest, most pummelling set and one that showed just why they are deemed so influential and finally the finest exponents of deconstructed rock music – New Zealand’s The Dead C. They took all the music that preceded them and sonically disintegrated it into absorbing experimental fragments. R.I.P Society deserved such a eclectic celebration of their diverse roster and all bands delivered appropriately fine and unique performances.

Chris Familton

this review was first published in The Music

DS Favourite Songs of 2013

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It’s always a mighty challenge to narrow down all the songs you’ve heard in one year and slot them into order on a nice tidy list of 20. I’m sure I’ve missed a handful of gems but these are all songs that have either captured my imagination, feet, ears or all of the above and made me think “damn that is a great song”.

1. Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener

2. Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Jubilee Street

3. Houndmouth – Penitentiary

4. Unknown Mortal Orchestra – So Good At Being In Trouble

5. Bad//Dreems – Caroline

6. Wooden Shjips – Everybody Knows

7. Kirin J Callinan – Victoria M

8. Ooga Boogas – Sex in the Chillzone

9. Ducktails – Under Cover

10. TV Colours – Beverly

11. Popstrangers – Heaven

12. Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys – Any Day Now

13. Eleanor Friedberger – When I Knew

14. Sharpie Crows – Thanks You Ladies For The Spread

15. Bill Callahan – Small Plane

16. Neko Case – Night Still Comes

17. Guy Clark – My Favorite Picture of You

18. Arcade Fire – We Exist

19. Suede – Barriers

20. Depeche Mode – Heaven

Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Jubilee Street

Houndmouth – Penitentiary

Unknown Mortal Orchestra – So Good At Being In Trouble

Bad//Dreems – Caroline

Wooden Shjips – Everybody Knows

Kirin J Callinan – Victoria M

Ooga Boogas – Sex in the Chillzone

Ducktails – Under Cover

TV Colours – Beverly

Popstrangers – Heaven

Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys – Any Day Now

Eleanor Friedberger – When I Knew

Suede – Barriers

Sharpie Crows – Thanks You Ladies For The Spread

Bill Callahan – Small Plane

Neko Case – Night Still Comes

Guy Clark – My Favorite Picture of You

Arcade Fire – We Exist

Depeche Mode – Heaven

VIDEO: Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys | Any Day Now

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Many thought they’d never amount to anything but Sydney’s Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys have gone and recorded one of the best albums we’ve heard so far this year. Ready For Boredom hits the mark with it’s Television/Replacements take on suburban punk that bristles with dissent while still possessing a streak of bitter melancholia amid the spiraling riffs and pseudo solos, sandpaper vocals and rock solid rhythm section. It conjures up images of things lost, things found and youthful disenfranchisement.

They’ve just released a great video for Any Day Now.